No major threat from ‘saffron terror’
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba’s terror campaign against India is backed by the power of a state. To compare this with the acts of a crowd of motley Hindu extremists
is like equating chalk with cheese.
The recent controversy over a politician’s remark on
‘Hindu terror’ and another gem of invoking visions of an
Indian Hitler need to be dismissed with contempt they
deserve. The former American ambassador to India, David
Mulford’s comment that Indian politicians can stoop to any
level to garner votes is a ringing indictment of this tribe of
ed in Pakistan and who receive some support from fringe
element of Indian Muslims. Groups like the Students
Islamic Movement of India or its latest avatar, the Indian
Mujahedeen, are essentially an extension of the Pakistan-
ADREES LATIF/REU TERS
Residents and policemen clear the debris at the blast site in Malegaon, Maharashtra, September 30, 2008. In a second major
terror attack in three years, two low-intensity explosions killed seven people
But such is the power of repetition of lies that there is a
great danger of these becoming self-fulfilling prophesies
and therefore need to be challenged. An even greater reason is that a politician in wilderness (and a former chief
minister) has insinuated that (just like Pakistan) ‘saffron’
terror has infiltrated even the Indian armed forces. He
approvingly quotes the example of a lone wolf rogue officer
who is alleged to have got involved in terrorist acts. In the
interest of national security, these wild assertions need to
Terror threats that India faces:
As a multi-ethnic, religious and linguistic subcontinent,
India faces many revolts backed by narrow ideologies.
There is the separatist movement in the Kashmir valley
(not Jammu and Kashmir, but only the valley), Assam,
Manipur and Nagaland. In addition there is an on going
unrest in heartland of India where Maoist insurgents want
to overthrow the state and usher in ‘their’ version of ‘
people’s republic’. All these movements indulge in the use of
terror tactics off and on.
In addition to the above, for the last two years, a motley
group of Hindu extremists have taken to ‘retaliating’ for the
past acts of terror attributed to Islamist terror groups locat-
alleged saffron terror is linked to four incidents in which 19
people have lost their lives and a few score have been
Lashkar’s terror campaign against India is thus backed by
the power and resources of a state. To compare this with
the acts of a crowd of motley Hindu extremists is like
equating chalk with cheese.
Religious fundamentalism and terrorism: A tenuous link!
Even since Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden invoked religion to justify terror attacks, the terrorism tag has been
unfortunately put on the religion of Islam. A little introspection will show that Al Qaeda’s newly found belief in the
Islamic cause is fake. Osama never tires of invoking the
cause of Palestine (and now even Kashmir) to justify his
actions. But wasn’t the same Osama happily collaborating
with the hated Americans in Afghanistan through the
1980s? Was America then not supporting Israel?
The truth is that Osama’s basic aim is to grab power in
Saudi Arabia. He felt that he had an IoU from the
Americans on this. But once the first Afghan war was over,
the Americans apparently refused to oblige him. It is only
then that he remembered the plight of Palestine/Kashmir.
A general study of the 9/11 bombers — or even the latest
failed Time Square terrorist — does not show much direct
connection between religious fundamentalism and terrorism. None of these were typically religious people. An MIT
study has also similarly shown that there no direct link
between poverty and terrorism.
The growth of religious fundamentalism can indeed provoke riots and disturb peace but by itself cannot lead to terrorism. It is true that riots or mob violence is bad, but it is
a like a crime of passion, whereas terrorism is pre-meditat-ed mass murder. It is necessary to clearly distinguish these
Terrorism that the world faces today is essentially a
power struggle and proxy war to achieve this worldly aim.
Religion is used only as a cloak to hide the true intentions.
Even the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (the Pakistani
Taliban) is similarly out to grab power in that country.
It is unfortunate that the current political power struggle
got the ‘Islamist’ tag because the terrorist’s themselves
invoked religious sanction for their acts by selectively quoting from the holy book.
There have been over 42 attacks on mosques in Pakistan
in the last five years and over 530 worshippers have been
killed while performing namaaz. In 63 years of independence, these many attacks have not taken place in India. The
Indians who fall into the Lashkar trap must look at
this reality and honestly answer the question whether they
are safe in India or Pakistan?
One is aware that the Gujarat riots in 2002 will be
evoked. But in these riots (according to the Union home
ministry) 800 people lost their lives. Besides this, 232
(mostly from the majority community) were killed in police
firing. When one alludes to the ghost of Hitler and the
German genocide of Jews, one must ask a question, were
any Germans killed by their police for attacking Jews? Our
modern politicians seem to have not read much history but
have surely studied Gobbels’ quite thoroughly, and have
succeeded in repeating a lie again and again to make it an
established fact. This does not in any way condone partisan
behavior of the police or even the inability of the government to control the violence quickly enough.
But the worst is the snide attempt to drag the armed
forces into the controversy. One would like to remind these
unworthy people that the armed forces of India have
always acted with utmost impartiality in these situations. If
any one has doubt ask Qutubuddin Ansari, a tailor from
Ahmedabad, who told this author with tears in his eyes that
it was the timely arrival of the Indian army that saved him
and his family after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
By sowing doubts about the integrity of armed forces
whose interest are such people serving?
Dr Anil Athale is a former Indian Army colonel and an
expert on insurgency and terrorism